By Jana Taylor
“Natural is better” seems self-evident, doesn’t it? We all know eating an apple is better for us than a fruit roll-up, and no one would blink an eye if you said water is better for your body than a can of soda. And yet, there seems to be a perception among many that over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs are better or more effective than herbs and other forms of complementary alternative medicine (CAM) which are straight from nature.
The truth is, it isn’t like prescription and OTC are invented in a lab out of nothing. Contrary to popular belief the dirty secret is that in the majority of cases, drug companies find plants that are known to have medicinal qualities, and then they go to work, isolating the molecule they think may be responsible for causing the desired effect. Once isolated, they synthesize that molecule, removing Mother Nature from the equation, and only then they are able to patent it. Being able to patent a molecule is far more profitable than just prescribing an herb for an ailment. You can’t patent a plant that grows naturally.
I’m not saying that OTC medications are not effective in producing results, because they absolutely are. These medications force a reaction in the body to minimize whatever issue is occurring and the body has no choice but to react. What I am saying is they might not be an ideal way to deal with minor problems or illness in the body, especially in the long term. The body is not a machine where you can flip a switch and a problem is fixed. The body is a complex biological system that is interconnected; no system in the body is isolated from any other. When you radically force a change in one area, the side effects are felt everywhere. With this ‘forcing approach’ to medicine, nothing is really cured, the symptoms are only masked, and side effects are likely to occur.
Think about it, is there a medication out there you have ever heard of that does not have a warning label a mile long listing all possible side effects that were seen in clinical trials? And recently, common medications that we all thought were harmless when taken in the correct dose have been shown to have some huge problems like dementia, heart attack and death if they are taken for more than a few weeks at a time. If you are treating something benign like acid reflux, do you really want kidney failure and bone loss, which is worse than your original problem, as side effects?
Modern medicine does not consider that the whole plant they derived a single molecule from could be valuable, or that the complex combinations of molecules in the plant may work together in ways that are more beneficial and balancing to the body as a whole. A single molecule might be easier to recreate or easier to put into a pill with a standardized dosage, which in turn makes clinical trials that much easier.
Next time you have a minor ache or illness, try looking to Mother Nature to provide natural equilibrium in your health and rely less on incomplete synthesized copies.
Jana Taylor is a staff writer for Peaceful Mountain.